My girlfriend found Shanghai Terrace on metromix when she was looking for a nice place to take her friends when they were visiting chicago. Since we haven't been there before, we checked it out ahead of time on tuesday, and then again on friday when her friends were in town. It's a little confusing to get to. It's inside the pennisnula hotel. To get to it, you go in the main doors of the pennisula, and then take the elevators up to the lobby. From there you walk past a hotel bar area on the left and both evenings there was a string quartet playing on the right. It's a very classy place. Inside is a very asianed themed restaurant with er-hu music being played. On the actual terrace, there are many flower boxes, and a good view of the surrounding buildings, including the hancock center. Friday it was cool enough to eat on the Terrace and it was a nice open view. Since it's not at street level, street noise and smell is reduced, but you also can't people watch the passerbyes.
The Shanghai terrace itself was staffed predominantly by east asians. On tuesday, we had a little difficulty understanding our main waitress, but the staff was all very friendly. With the heat we're having in Chicago, both days we were giving a cool damp towel to cool off with. The menu's inside cover has a couple journal entries trying to tie together a theme for the food on the menu which I thought was spoiled by the note on the back of the menu saying that it was fictitious. The food we had both nights was excellent, although the red bean cheescake dessert doesn't mesh well with western ideas of dessert. Entree's were $25 and up, which is higher than what metromix said. They have an extensive wine list as well. For 2 on tuesday we had ~ $200 dollar check, and for 4 on friday it was ~$300.
Second City has been one of the main jumping off points for a lot of comics, from George Wendt to Dan Castenella to John Belushi to Bill Murray to Tina Fey to Amy Sedaris. The etc. stage is the triple A team for the main stage. Since we've already seen the main stage show, red scare, we got tickets for the etc show, From Fear to Eternity. Second city does sketch comedy, similar to saturday night live, but with less props, shorter skits, and actually funny. There were some great skits in the show, and seemed to me to be as good as the main stage show. There were a couple chicago specific skits that the out of towners wouldn't understand as well (such as auctioning off of chicago landmarks, parodying the sale of the skyway) but most skits were more broadly based. My favorites were probably the ones with the birds eye view of the beds, including a funny physical joke of walking between the two beds. Drinks and bar food are served at the theater, and they're reasonably priced for downtown chicago. I would definately recommend anyone interested in Chicago theater to see Second city, main stage or etc stage.
We went to the MSI with the intent to see 2 exhibits : the newly renovated U-505 captured german sub from WWII and the Body Worlds exhibit, which displays the internals of the human body using the plastination process.
The U-505 has been at the MSI since 1954, when chicagoans rescued it with the assitance of Gallery, the chicago native commanding officer who helped capture the ship in 1944. However, it had sat outside for 50 years, getting a lot of weather damage. In renovating the ship, they placed it inside the museum, and revamped the display, better telling the story of the sub's capture. The story itself was very interesting to learn more about, and the revamped displays do a good job of telling the story with video and static displays. Since the sub has been moved inside, walking around the sub gives a better idea on the size of this 750 ton (?) ship that had a crew of 54 men. However, with the revamped setup, they now charge an additional $5 dollars to tour the sub, which is dissapointing. We did not pay the extra (on top of the $27 we already spent per person to enter the museum and see our desired exhibits). The crowd was thin, and it was not difficult to get a good view of any of the displays. The story is a good one and worth seeing. I'd recommend paying the extra $5 dollars to see the insides however, because reaching the end of the exhibit without the internal tour is anti-climatic.
The body worlds exhibit uses the plastination process to replace body fluids and fats in place with a preserving plastic. This allows bodies to be displayed with muscles and internal organs exposed to air, instead of in formaldahyde. The exhibit started out with bodies bones displayed, added musclature with and without bones, showed a body with nerves and bones, nerves and muscles, and many other permutations showing the relationship between different body systems. None of these bodies had skin, probably to help dehumanize the experience. However, the exhibit is more of a blend of art and science, with many bodies displayed more in an artistic manner than in one purely for science. For instance, instead of displaying a human brain next to a horses brain to show size differences, a preserved human astride a preserved horse, holds his own and the horses brains in his outstretched hands. One of the bodies in an exploded view (with muscles and bones removed to show internal organs) wears a white panama hat. The display says this is to remove the distance between life and death, which sounds like artistic reason instead of scientific reasoning to me. At the beginning of the show, a display stated that these bodies had been explicitly donated for the purpose of these displays, but it did seem that some of the displays were on the verge of disrespect.
The exhibit is immensely popular, which also means immensley crowded. The line was 30 minutes long, even though tickets to the exhibit have a time on them to limit crowding. Many of the encased displays of individual organs or bone structures were difficult to see because of the crowd. Many of the whole standing bodies had crowds of people around them with some poking and prodding, in spite of the do not touch signs. A portion of the exhibit was seperated off from the rest to show pregnant mothers and fetuses. This display was concientiously done to make viewing dead babies as least jarring as possible. Near the end of the exhibit, the displays get more and more like artistic poses instead of scientific poses, which does help with display overload some. The exhibit is only at the MSI until Sept 5th, at which point it will travel to another museum. Overall, I'd recommend seeing this exhibit at a time that would be low traffic, as long as you'll have no compuctions about uses of a dead body.
We also saw an omnimax film related to the body worlds exhibit. The film showed probably a dozen different bodily systems functions tied into the theme of a families daily life. The tie in to daily life was probably unnecessary but did provide more of a structure of moving from system to system. The main complaint we had about this film was that it was not clearly delineated when we were seeing models, computer simulations, and actual body systems at work. The film also was very basic, and didn't touch much beyond what's learned in highschool biology. Probably not worth seeing.
The elephant and castle is a British style restaurant/pub which was started in Canada and franchised in Chicago. I didn't realize it was a chain until I found the link above. We went to the Adams street location for dinner after the museum. My girlfriend and I have been a couple times since it's near her office downtown. They have Cider on tap, which is a rarity in chicago and which gives a place a star in our books. They serve a mix of british and american food in a good atmosphere. Also not too pricey for downtown Chicago. I can't vouch for their authenticity for certain, but it was good enough to fool this American.
Instead of paying to go to an observation deck on the 94th, you can go up to the signature lounge on the 96th floor for free and have some drinks and dessert while looking over chicago. There's a line for the elevators, and it is a popular place. Showing up before sunset is a good idea if you want to see much of the city, but the night lights on the city were a good view as well. Drinks weren't cheap, but also not too bad for downtown chicago at the top of a skyscraper. They ladies bathroom also has a view of the city, but the mens bathroom is all tile. Parking was expensive ($22) but to be expected. A very perfunctory search of my trunk did not find the fireworks that had been inadvertantly left there. The lounge is definately worth stopping bye instead of the sears tower or hancock center observation deck, and if you have a spare hour, is worth stopping bye even if you weren't planning on checking out the top of a sky scraper.
|< Hello Happy Campers! | BBC White season: 'Rivers of Blood' >|